With just a couple of days left until the MLB trade deadline, the Red Sox and Rays are in playoff position in the American League East while the Yankees and Jays are within striking distance. So what exactly will be each team’s strategy as we near July 30?
The division-leading Red Sox would love to add to their bullpen, and a reunion with closer Craig Kimbrel has been the subject of much speculation. However, their biggest deadline addition may come from within their own system as ace Chris Sale appears to be on target to debut next month after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Offensively, Boston has a hole at first base that could be filled perfectly by 2007 Red Sox draft pick and Cubs star Anthony RIzzo.
The Rays have a good offense as they have scored the fifth-most runs in baseball entering July 28. However, they needed to add more thump to their lineup and found a great match last week in slugger Nelson Cruz, who has already homered twice in his first four games as a Ray. That covers Tampa Bay’s biggest weakness. Now, will they add to the starting rotation? Right after acquiring Cruz, the Rays dealt away pitcher Rich Hill. He hadn’t been a difference-maker in a couple of months, but Tampa Bay’s pitching staff needs some help sans Tyler Glasnow.
You could make a good argument for why the Yankees should be sellers — they have many weak spots and may be the fourth-best team in their own division right now — but that’s not what they are going to do. The Yankees are looking to add talent and the needs are obvious. They could use a shortstop. They could use another starting pitcher. Most of all, they could use an athletic outfielder, preferably a lefty. In the perfect scenario, the Yankees find a way to swing a sensible deal with the Rangers for left-handed masher Joey Gallo and starter Kyle Gibson.
The Jays were really the first team to really declare themselves as buyers this summer when they acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson and setup man Adam Cimber from the Marlins in June. Although they reside in fourth place, four games out of a playoff spot, don’t expect them to turn back now. Look for Toronto to add something to their pitching staff — either in the rotation or more help for the bullpen — in support of its fantastic lineup that leads the AL in home runs.
The Orioles are still about three years away from approaching anything close to competitive, so the hunt for prospects continues. All-Star center fielder Cedric Mullins and ace pitcher John Means have had their names drops into trade rumors, but with each player maintaining at least three years of team control, such a move feels a little self-defeating. Power bat Trey Mancini is slated to be a free agent next season, but can you imagine the blowback from the fan base if Baltimore sends away the man at the center of the best feel-good story in baseball? Ultimately, while those players would fetch much more lucrative returns, the Orioles will most likely have to hit on the right prospect in smaller deals that involve some of their relievers.